The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and, since that time, the program has honored over 8,000 outstanding high school seniors. The mission of the program is to recognize and honor outstanding high school seniors, and thereby encourage high attainment among all students.
Per the original Executive Order establishing the program, students are selected based on outstanding scholarship. For most of the program’s existence, nominees have been invited to apply for recognition based upon SAT or ACT scores. As the program has grown, candidates have been invited to apply in other ways as well. Beginning in 1979, outstanding students who demonstrated ability and accomplishment in the visual and performing arts or creative writing were added to the program. Since 2013, Chief State School Officers have been invited to nominate candidates from their states for the General component of the program. The program is also partnering with several recognition organizations that each nominate candidates for the General component of the program. And, beginning in 2016, outstanding students who demonstrate excellence in CTE were included for recognition.